Wednesday, July 24, 2013

USAC Mountain Bike Nationals at Bear Creek.

Typically, when I write about Bear Creek, I do my absolute best to mention how much fun I do not have there. Last Saturday more than made up for 1/2 a decade of poor to mediocre levels of fun there. 

I got my ass kicked in my race. I started in the back... and I stayed in the back most of the day until the inevitable happened and I got pulled as the leaders flew on by.  The course was challenging. Anyone who says its "dumbed down" or not technical isn't riding it fast enough. Its shorter than the big lap. That's it. It had some nice flow and a nice downhill to reward you for the entirely single track climb. Simply put, I loved it.
Lauren shoving stockings filled with ice down my back.

I had pre rode it a bunch during the last few weeks, figured out the lines and had a good idea of exactly where I needed to be on the tough spots. All that went out the window at race pace. Instead of having the luxury of picking and choosing my way through the rocks, I was just trying to hold the wheel in front of me. That put a lot of emphasis on sprinting all the time and less on line choice. Being in the back meant a lot of yoyoing and some more running with my bike on normally ridable sections due to jam ups.

I knew at the top of the descent a large crowd has amassed. I purposely didn't go up there before my race as I wanted to experience it for the first time in the race. I knew most everyone up there, and by that late in the day they were pretty drunk loud. I was a little late to the party (slightly dropped) but I eventually made it to the Wall of Sound. it was overwhelming. So many people yelling, sirens, bells, music, people screaming my name. Even some heckling "GET OFF THE BRAKES!" I got goose bumps. I almost crashed on the stair step rocks due to the noise causing me to go a little more rad than my skill level can handle. (Video below)
J Rock... keeping MTB weird. Photo: Pat Engleman
Mr Abram Landes somehow continues to take the most awesome pictures.  You can even see adult beverage being thrown on me.
The weirdest part, if you asked me who was up there after the race, I wouldn't be able to give you 3 names. There were so many voices coming at me, I couldn't pick out individuals. The trail required most of my brain power anyways. Everything else was a audio and visual blur. 
Deep in the heckle pit. Photo Beth Fayant
I was fortunate enough to pass through the heckle pit 3 times. On my last lap I yelled "Thank you" as many times as I could at 190bpm. After rock drop 1, I pulled aside to let the lead moto pass. Instead he yelled "GO GO GO GO" I took off, launched off the log pile and ripped the last descent one more time.. with a dirt bike chasing me. The 63 minutes I got to spend in the PRO national championship were truly an honor, and I look forward to spending a few more next year. 
Switchback: Photo Kyle Centrella
Thank you to all that yelled, cheered, threw beer at me, or gave me a little push on the hill. Thanks to my family for standing out in the heat to yell at me. Thanks to Lauren for missing all the fun and staying in the feed zone all day to hand me bottles. Thanks to USAC for putting this on. Pay attention to the fun parts, it seems the party at the top of the hill is getting as much press as the serious stuff. Thanks to Bear Creek, for finally proving to me your course doesn't completely suck, and it is in fact possible to have fun on your mountain. I will return. Oh, your bar is awesome too. 

Proof I rode the drops, Thanks Bear Creek for the photo

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